Anti-Semitic Fliers Posted at High School Following Backlash Over Nazi Salute at Student Party

By Hannah Fry, Los Angeles Times - March 23, 2019

Anti-Semitic fliers with Nazi symbols were posted around Newport Harbor High School (in Orange County) over the weekend of March 9-10, roughly a week after a viral photo showed students posed in a Nazi salute while gathered around a swastika formed by disposable red plastic beer cups during a house party.

Police received a call from school officials Sunday reporting that at least 10 fliers, each 8 by 11 inches — some bearing swastikas — had been put up around the Newport Beach campus. Authorities think the fliers were plastered around the campus late Saturday or early Sunday. Police are investigating...

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The Math All Around Us

A Math Teacher Considers How to Make Real-World Connections During Field Trips, Projects

By Alessandra King - March 23, 2019

The math team at my school never lets an activity or event — from morning assemblies to field trips — pass without highlighting important or interesting mathematical connections. Few if any of these events were intended to serve the math curriculum, but we find ways to make it work.

Morning assemblies, for example, can be a good time for a continuing program of quick creativity boosters. There are many possible themes: Important Historical Problems and Their Current Applications, Logic Puzzles and Riddles, and Counterintuitive Problems...

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Researchers Find Disproportionate Assignments

Low-Income Students Encounter a Special Education Mismatch

By Grace Tatter - March 9, 2019

Low-income students are disproportionately assigned to special education, according to a new report from the Century Foundation by researchers from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Harvard Chan School of Public Health, and SRI International. 

Experts and educators have long documented how students of color are disproportionately sent to special education to their detriment, isolated in classrooms with teachers who have less expertise in important subject-matter material like math, English, and science. Last summer, the Trump administration delayed regulations the Obama administration had proposed to curb discriminatory special education assignments, stating that “racial disparities in the identification, placement, or discipline of children with disabilities are not necessarily evidence of, or primarily caused by, discrimination.” Rather than reflecting racial discrimination, they said, an overrepresentation of students of color in special education can be chalked up to higher need for those services, or because special education placement is correlated with poverty. They did not suggest that this correlation in itself could be due to discrimination...

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A Valuable but Difficult-to-Master Skill

Teaching Students to Paraphrase

By Jennifer Davis Bowman - March 9, 2019

When discussing text in the classroom, it’s tough for students to shift from utilizing an author’s words (copying) to accepting the challenge to express that author’s idea in their own words (paraphrasing).

But teaching effective paraphrasing is necessary because the use of paraphrasing facilitates important literacy skills: It encourages repeated reading, develops note-taking habits as students track quotes and outline text details, and expands vocabulary as they consider appropriate ways to describe the original text. The skill may seem daunting to students because it takes time to find the appropriate words to reshape a sentence, but that is time well spent...

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Study: Homework Is Too Focused on Rote Learning

February 24, 2019

On February 13, the Center for American Progress released a new report that takes a first-of-its-kind look at homework assignment quality. Specifically, the study examines how homework v assignment align with Common Core State Standards, and whether they require students to demonstrate the full depth of knowledge required of the content standards. In reviewing a snapshot of homework samples collected using Amazon Mechanical Turk (MTurk), the authors of the report find:

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“The Biggest Lesson of My First Year Teaching”

Veteran Teacher Shares How She Learned the Value of Prioritizing Relationships

By Cindy Bourdo - February 24, 2019

“Overwhelming” is the word that best describes my first year of teaching. I wasn’t prepared for the multitude of things on my plate. I didn’t have a handle on classroom management, and I left each day feeling exhausted and defeated.

My time was spent learning new curriculum, developing personalized learning techniques, modifying lessons, and analyzing data. I knew this was important work, but I also knew that something was not working. I felt a disconnect in my classroom and knew I could do better.

I looked around and saw that there were some teachers who seemed to just take everything in stride and really enjoyed what they were doing. Their classrooms ran smoothly, and their students looked happy. To figure out what they were doing that set them apart, I made an effort to study three teachers during my first year...

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Is It Time to Rethink the Way We Do School?

Bringing the Science of Learning Into Classrooms

By Heather Riley and Youki Terada - February 9, 2019

New research sheds light on the effects that childhood experiences - both good and bad - have on the developing brain. But are schools keeping up?

“The 20th-century education system was never designed with the knowledge of the developing brain,” says Pamela Cantor, MD, who is part of a cross-disciplinary team of experts studying the science of learning and development. “So when we think about the fact that learning is a brain function and we have an education system that didn’t have access to this critical knowledge, the question becomes: Do we have the will to create an education system that’s informed by it?”

Contrary to the long-held belief that brain maturation is largely complete by the age of 6, we now know that our brains are malleable and continue to change dramatically well into our 20s. This has profound implications for learning throughout the school-age years...

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SBE Approves New K-12 California Arts Standards

February 9, 2019

On February 4, State Superintendent Tony Thurmond praised the recent adoption of new California Arts standards by the State Board of Education, stating it is a critical step in enhancing creativity in students and preparing students for California’s  “creative economy.” The last update to the state’s arts standards was in 2001.

“This was long overdue. Creativity and appreciation for the arts is important for all students to have a well-rounded education, exposing them to new ideas and perspectives. Arts education boosts school attendance, academic achievement, and college attendance rates; improves school climate; and promotes higher self-esteem and social-emotional development.” Thurmond said. “In addition, proficiency in the technology related to creative work is becoming an important skill for students as they progress into college and career.”...

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Social and Emotional Learning in Science Class

By Sarah Kesty - January 26, 2019

You assign a group activity in your science classroom and within minutes, this scene unfolds: In each group of four students, two are talking to each other and semi-engaging in the task, one is entirely disengaged and is instead bending and reshaping a paperclip, and one is hurriedly completing the activity all alone, half-heartedly asking her peers to pass her the materials she needs. Sound familiar?

In science lessons, engineering activities can provide a great opportunity for students to collaborate and grow social and emotional skills in low-stakes, high-engagement environments. The creative, problem-solving nature of engineering encourages students to work together, try new ideas, and learn from their mistakes...

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Revising the Traditional Parent-Teacher Conference Allows Middle School Students to Develop Leadership and Organizational Skills

By Brooke Markle - January 26, 2019

As educators, one of the most important life skills we teach students is independence. In middle school, we foster gradual responsibility. We also encourage students to take a more active role in their own learning and to develop the tools needed to self-advocate.

Providing students with the ability to have open discussions with their parents about their successes and struggles puts these skills into practice in a collaborative, supportive way...

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CDE Launches Updated 2018 School Dashboard with More Information, Parent-Friendly Upgrades

December 15, 2018

On December 6, 5he California Department of Education (CDE) and the State Board of Education (SBE) launched the second version of the California School Dashboard, a website that gives parents, students, and educators access to valuable school and district data.

The 2018 Dashboard includes two new metrics for evaluating school and district performance and a new, user-friendly look that makes complex data easier to understand. The Dashboard is now fully accessible on smart phones and tablets, is easier to navigate, and has improved graphics. The new Dashboard also has the most current data available, including 2018 test scores and graduation rates...

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CDE Announces 2018 Rates for High School Graduation, Suspension and Chronic Absenteeism

November 30, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on November 19 that the high school graduation rates for 2018 remain near an all-time high. Among students who started high school in 2014, 83 percent graduated with their class in 2018, an increase from 82.7 percent from the year before. The state's graduation rate has increased substantially since the class of 2010 posted a 74.7 percent rate.

“Our graduation rates continue to rise, reflecting the passion and dedication by educators over the past eight years to transform our education system with a more equitable funding system, higher academic standards and more emphasis on career technical education,” Torlakson said. “Still, much work needs to be done to make certain all students graduate and to close the continuing achievement gaps between student groups...

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Teaching Students to Disagree Productively

November 30, 2018
By Brittany R. Collins

On a cool October morning, energy buzzed in a third-grade classroom in western Massachusetts. Students sat on the rug, raising their hands and grinning from ear to ear. As I entered at the back of the room, I was struck to hear the words “I disagree!” coming from the carpet. Could it be that all of this excitement was coexisting with - or even coming from - debate?

I hung my coat and settled in to observe this science lesson in action. “Disagreement is great!” the teacher exclaimed before reminding students of a prior discussion about how to share and use dissenting opinions as a tool for problem-solving...

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One Teacher’s Suggestions for Creating a More Diverse Classroom Library

November 15, 2018
By Meredith Kimi Lewis

The library is the physical and metaphorical center of my classroom. It is a reading world adorned with a carpet, comfy chairs, a lamp, and bins of neatly organized books. When I remember my own childhood, I picture a colorful tapestry woven by the hundreds of worlds I visited through the pages of books.

Imagine my surprise when one of my students commented about what I thought was a magical space, “I’m tired of reading about white kids.”

She followed this with a reminder that I, her teacher, am also not white. I was taken aback. More than 60 percent of my students are individuals of color. My library featured white characters almost exclusively. What schema was I helping to create for my students? I decided to make a change...

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SBE Approves First Instructional Materials Based on Next Generation Science Standards

November 15, 2018

On November 8, the State Board of Education (SBE) voted to approve the first-ever instructional materials which incorporate California’s groundbreaking Next Generation Science Standards for grades K-8.

“California is the first state in the nation to adopt a science framework and approve instructional materials based on the Next Generation Science Standards,” State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson said. “I am excited about the new standards, which train students to act like scientists by posing questions and developing their own experiments. In addition, they emphasize climate change and environmental literacy, along with engineering and strategies to support girls and young women in science...

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California's History-Social Science Framework Wins American Historical Association Prize

November 1, 2018

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced on October 17 that the California Department of Education (CDE) and the California History-Social Science Project (University of California, Davis) have won the American Historical Association's Beveridge Family Teaching Prize for distinguished K–12 history teaching. The two organizations collaborated to create the groundbreaking History­-Social Science Framework for California Public Schools, which was approved by the State Board of Education in 2016 and published last year.

"California is leading the way in helping our students recognize the diversity of our great state and nation," Torlakson said. "Thanks to the partnership between the California Department of Education and the California History-Social Science project, California students will learn from the latest research and have a deeper understanding of the important contributions and challenges faced by many individuals and ethnic groups that have sometimes been overlooked. These include every major ethnic group, as well as members of the LGBT community and people with disabilities.”...

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U.S. Department of Education Releases New Study, Accompanying Toolkit on Ed Tech for English Learners

November 1, 2018

On October 22, the U.S. Department of Education announced the release of the National Study on English Learners and Digital Resources. The study provides the first national look at how districts and educators use educational technology to instruct English learner students - the fastest-growing student population in the country.

Today’s students are entering classrooms that have seen rapid adoption of digital technologies in instruction. With these new technologies, teachers of English learner (EL) students, whether they are general education teachers or specialists in EL student instruction, have exciting new tools to support learning...

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Focus, Emotion Regulation, and Goal Setting are Social and Emotional Learning Skills That Teachers Can Address During Recess and PE

October 3, 2018
By Maurice J. Elias

I’d like to offer up four social and emotional learning (SEL) skills that can be built up during physical education class or recess. Outdoor physical activities are an ideal time to develop SEL. Some of this is done in the moment, while at other times it involves instruction and preparation. For example, you may call students’ attention to certain actions during their participation and observations during play, and follow this up by facilitating a class discussion around their observations.


Sometimes students are concerned only about what they will do when it’s their turn-for example, when the ball will next come to them. In a group game that has a ball, you can assist students with attending to the small things involved. This builds their appreciation of all the moving pieces that are critical to team - and individual - success...

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CDE Releases Last Spring’s CAASPP Test Results, Several Subgroups Show Modest Improvement

October 3, 2018

On October 2, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced that 2018 scores for the online California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) tests in English Language Arts and mathematics increased further from the gains students made in 2017.

Statewide, in all tested grades, 49.88 percent of students met or exceeded the English Language Arts/Literacy standards, a 1.32 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.88 percentage point increase from 2015. In mathematics, 38.65 percent of students met or exceeded standards, a 1.09 percentage point increase from 2017 and a 5.65 percentage point increase from 2015.

This is the fourth year of the computer-based tests, which use California’s challenging academic standards and ask students to write clearly, think critically, and solve complex problems, as they will need to do in college and 21st century careers...

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Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning?
Research Shows Students Benefit When Teachers Share Their Race or Gender. Yet Most Teachers are White Women

September 20, 2018
By Claire Cain Miller

As students have returned to school, they have been greeted by teachers who, more likely than not, are white women. That means many students will be continuing to see teachers who are a different gender than they are, and a different skin color.

Does it matter? Yes, according to a significant body of research: Students tend to benefit from having teachers who look like them, especially nonwhite students...

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SBE Adopts State’s First-Ever Computer Science Standards for Schools

September 20, 2018

On September 6, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved California’s first-ever computer science standards - learning expectations that will help each student reach their creative potential in our digitally connected world.

“As a forward-leaning state and home to Silicon Valley, California’s new standards will not only enable students to understand how their digital world works but will encourage critical thinking and discussion about the broader ethical and social implications and questions related to the growing capabilities of technology,” said State Board member Trish Williams, who serves as the Board’s computer science liaison...

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